That must have been one heck of a car wash that Luke coaxed Becky into visiting with him.
In recent episodes, Friday Night Lights offered few clues that the East Dillon teens did anything beyond scrubbing the paintball marks off Luke's truck, and that's not a euphemism.
But the row of positive pregnancy tests scattered across Becky's bathroom sink at the start of Friday's episode offer an abrupt plot twist in an episode of abrupt plot twists and rushed character development.
It was almost as if the writers were trying to pick up the pace after the previous week's meandering episode where Julie reverted to some petulant whining on her mother-daughter visit to Boston College for a campus interview, Riggins put on a suit in an unsuccessful attempt to land a job selling household appliances and Landry wisely chose not to wear his button-down shirt with the periodic table printed on it for a frustratingly chaste date with Jess ... and her younger brothers.
Nothing chaste apparently about Becky's car wash trip to Luke, though. It seemed odd that after that one random meeting at the convenience store that the show went several weeks with only a few brief interactions between the pair only to drop the teen pregnancy bomb this week.
It will be interesting to see how the show navigates this plot thread. In many cases, network programs play it relatively safe in terms of pregnant teens. To steal a phrase from the movie "Knocked Up," few choose to deal in great length with a hot-button topic that "rhymes with shmashmortion."
But Becky's tense conversations with Luke asking him to help her "take care of it," and her dismay at following the same hard road as her mother did as a teen mom suggest that FNL may tread where few contemporary shows dare.
Less plausible in Friday's episode is the abrupt transformation of Virgil Merriweather from surly barbecue joint owner to eager father figure for Vince and the wayward teens who've turned Carroll Park into a dangerous hangout. You had to figure that the show had bigger plans for an actor the caliber of Steve Harris than to have him grouse all season about the sport that chewed him up as a star QB back in the day.
But to go from showing zero interest in Coach Taylor's efforts to resurrect the East Dillon program to helping to set up a Saturday night game between the Lions and the neighborhood teens and 20-somethings up to no good leaves the viewer wondering what triggered the change.
And what convinced him to give Vince a job busing tables a couple weeks after kicking him out of Ray's Barbecue just for flirting with his daughter Jess? No explanation is offered, but if he had caught the old 'up-and-down' hungry stare that Jess offered Vince as he cleaned the bathroom, you wonder how long that job would last for Vince.
And while Jess is inviting Landry over to Ray's Barbecue for some afterhours smooching, the smoldering looks between Jess and Vince seem to suggest that Landry is doomed. (Just stay away from that car wash, kids!)
Then again, Landry is the same awkward but fiercely loyal Labrador of a boy who went on a killing spree to defend Tyra a few seasons ago, so know he's not spineless. Which makes his stammering conversation with a silent Vince minutes before the Saturday night scrimmage all the more entertaining.
Landry tries to clear the air with Vince by acknowledging that there must be some history between Jess and Ray's Barbecue's new bus boy, telling Vince that "if you want to hit me or whatever you want to do, I'd really like to get past that." You can't be sure if the two silent taps that Vince raps on Landry's chest are a grudging sign of respect or an ominous warning for the future, but a little ambiguity is fine.
No explanation is given, but kudos to FNL for slipping in another cast member from The Wire. This time it's Larry Gilliard, Jr., who played the ill-fated D'Angelo Barksdale in the fabled HBO series, as a former gang member who's been released from prison and who is working to get the neighborhood youth to avoid the mistakes he made.
D'Angelo/Elden and Wallace/Vince on the same football field, for Wireheads, it doesn't get any better. For that reason alone, you have to hope that Elden develops into a mentor for Vince, who finds his old friends questioning his loyalty when he passes up hanging out in the park so that he can study the Lions' playbook or when he refuses to give them freebies at Ray's Barbecue.
For those of you in the pool who had "three" as the number of episodes before Julie stopped mourning Matt's departure to develop a crush on some other flake, you won. The new guy apparently will be some Habitat for Humanity do-gooder who dropped out of college to travel the world building houses and hooking up with high school girls. Not as skeevy as the older life guard she fooled around with a couple seasons ago, but clearly he's no Matt Saracen.
No more Matt, and if you hadn't guessed it already from her absence the entire season, no more Janine Turner as the mother of West Dillon's weaselly QB, J.D. McCoy. (A moment of silence for those of us still crushing on Turner from her Northern Exposure days as the hottest bush pilot ever.)
Principal Tami Taylor's meeting with J.D.'s weaselly dad Joe McCoy is as close to a detente as we'll likely see between these two strong-willed characters. Apparently the one area where these two antagonist can agree is that J.D. can't be allowed to call his math teacher a [rhymes with "witch"].
McCoy can't completely wipe the smirk off his face when Taylor informs him that his son will have to sit out football practice as he serves his detention, but the show finally humanizes the evil football dad a bit as he admits that his son has been a douchey terror since Dad and Maggie O'Connell, I mean Mrs. McCoy, have split up. Taylor offers her sincere condolences and finds herself wondering whether it's time for another date night with the Most Honorable High School Football Coach in All the Land.
She might have started with telling her husband about the time a few weeks ago when the her smitten science teacher Glenn tried to, as he put it, rape her with his mouth after a drunken night of karaoke. Instead, it's Glenn who wanders over to East Dillon to apologize man-to-man to Coach Taylor, who clearly had no idea what had happened.
Kyle Chandler does a great slow burn as he anxiously rubs his East Dillon cap and offers Glenn a hostile, but not menacing, burst of laugh as he tries to make sense of the fact that, as he tells Tami later, by proxy he also has kissed Glenn. The incident becomes a running gag the rest of the episode, and thankfully not a marital crisis in an episode already overflowing with crises.
So when Coach Taylor has to bail at the last minute on his planned date night of wine and lovin' with his wife, Tami jokes that she'll have to call Glenn over while he's gone.
"Just make sure he doesn't drink all my Scotch," Taylor cracks, and you have to figure that all is well at least in this small corner of Dillon.